I have talked A LOT about crepes on this blog already but I just cannot stop myself, I need to share yet another delicious recipe.
Just imagine a crepe filled with a thin layer of delicate vanilla pastry cream, then folded, topped with a poached pear and drizzled with a hot dark chocolate sauce. Sprinkle with some toasted almond flakes, add a dollop of whipped cream if you want and this is it: a heavenly dessert.
I know I say this is elaborate and that is because there are many steps to the recipe: the crepes, the poached pears, the pastry cream and the chocolate sauce. But the thing is, you can make three of those ahead and just assemble before serving. You will just need to warm the crepes a little bit beforehand and prepare the hot chocolate sauce at the last minute.
And then, all what is left to do is indulge in this plate of sweet wonders. That will be worth all the work you put in preparing it!
Do you like making crepes?
What are your favourite toppings?
Ingredients (serve 4 people)
For the crepes batter (make 12 crepes)*
200g sifted plain flour
20g melted butter (plus extra cold butter for frying the crepes)
75/100ml cold water
For the pastry cream
1/2 vanilla bean (split in half lengthwise)
35g egg yolks (from approximately 2 eggs, depending on the size of your eggs)
35g caster sugar
15g corn flour
15g diced, softened unsalted butter
For the poached pears
1 litre cold water
200g caster sugar
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 vanilla bean (split in half lengthwise)
4 pears (peeled and stalk intact)
For the chocolate sauce
100g chopped dark chocolate
4 tablespoons hot water
Optional: toasted almond flakes
Making the crepes (can be made ahead)**
1. Put the sifted plain flour in a large baking bowl and form a well in the centre. Add in the eggs and melted butter and whisk constantly while pouring the milk until you get a very smooth batter. Transfer the batter through a sieve into a large jug (this will remove any remaining flour lumps). Cover and rest for two hours at room temperature (if you plan on waiting longer than that before use, put the batter in the fridge directly).
2. After the batter has rested, stir in a bit of cold water to dilute it (75 or 100ml depending on how thick or thin you would like your crepes).
3. Put a crêpe pan (or a shallow non-stick pan, 20cm diameter preferably) over a medium to high heat. Melt a small knob of butter in the pan. When it starts sizzling, pour a small amount of batter (you can use a ladle to do so but do not fill it completely or you will end up with very thick crepes; it should be the equivalent of 2 or 3 tablespoons). Swirl the pan quickly so the batter coats the bottom evenly. After a minute or so, flip the crepe delicately on its other side with a large spatula. Cook for another 30 seconds and transfer onto a plate. Cover with tin foil to keep the crepes warm.
Repeat with the rest of the batter.
Making the pastry cream (can be made ahead)**
1. Put the milk and half vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise) in a large saucepan over a medium heat and cook until it is simmering. Take off the heat, discard the vanilla bean, stir and set aside to cool down a bit.
2. Put the egg yolks, corn flour and sugar in a baking bowl and whisk until the mixture is thick and pale.
Whisk in half of the warm milk and pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Put the saucepan over a low to medium heat and whisk until it boils and thickens.
3. At this stage, transfer the pastry cream into a baking bowl. Put a piece of baking paper directly on the surface to avoid getting a skin on the pastry cream. Cool down for 5 minutes (or until it reaches 55ºC if you have a cooking thermometer).
4. When it has cooled down, add in the softened butter and stir until it is well mixed together. Put the baking paper back on the surface and cool down completely before refrigerating.
Poaching the pears (can be made ahead)**
1. Put the water, sugar, lemon juice and the split half vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved then raise the heat and bring to a boil. Place the peeled pears in the saucepan (ensure that they are covered by the liquid or cover with a piece of baking paper and turn the pears every now and then to make sure they cook evenly) and cook on medium heat for 15 to 25 minutes until the pears are tender (you should be able to easily take spoonfuls of the pear if properly poached - cooking time may vary because of the quality and ripeness of the pear - you can check if it is tender with a skewer or a thin knife blade).
2. When the pears are cooked, remove them from the poaching juice and place on a plate to cool down. (Keep the poaching juice, you can make a delicious syrup by boiling it until it reduces)
Making the chocolate sauce
1. Put the chopped dark chocolate in a small baking bowl.
2. Put the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for 5 minutes.
3. Stir the ganache and while still stirring, add the hot water one tablespoon at a time (it creates a lovely pouring chocolate sauce; if you prefer a thicker chocolate sauce, reduce the amount of hot water). Pour the sauce into a serving jug.
To assemble your dessert, spread half a warm crepe with a thin layer of pastry cream, fold in half and fold in half again. Repeat with 7 more crepes. Serve two crepes per person. Place them on a dessert plate, drizzle with hot chocolate sauce, place a poached pear over the crepes (I cut a slice in the bottom of the pear so it sits straight), sprinkle with toasted almond flakes (optional) and a dollop of whipped cream (optional). Et voilà!
* This crepes batter makes 12 crepes. The recipe only requires 8 crepes so I suggest keeping the remaining ones for the next day as a breakfast crepe or lunch with a filling of ham and grated cheese.
** Most of the elements in this recipe can be made ahead. You will just need to warm the crepes a little before serving.